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Beware of dog citations.

Consider that a heads-up to dog owners who let their canine pals off the leash in Salt Lake City parks that aren't designated for free-roaming fidos.

The first citation carries a $25 fine, the second runs $50, and the third rises to $75.

Salt Lake County Animal Services, which enforces the city's pet laws, is issuing more citations after a raft of complaints from non-dog owners, according to a spokesman for Mayor Ralph Becker. "We have asked Animal Services to step up enforcement," said Art Raymond.

Before this spring, Animal Services, at the city's request, had taken an educational approach to the problem by issuing warnings and explaining to dog owners the city's off-leash regulations, said Mike Reberg, director of Salt Lake County Animal Services.

"But this year, the city has expressed a frustration that we have gone too far on education and not far enough on enforcement," Reberg said. "I've proposed enhancing park patrols and the city approved it. We've been doing it for about six weeks."

The upswing in park use by dog owners comes as the city has been wrestling with how to provide more dog parks and off-leash areas, said City Council Chairman Charlie Luke.

A dog park working group has been evaluating options for more acreage, Luke said, and the administration will soon bring a proposal to the council.

"We don't have enough off-leash areas," he said. "If people had more opportunities nearby, they wouldn't have to break the law."

Luke said he hoped the council could endorse a plan for new off-leash areas by the end of August. Solutions could involve allowing off-leash use of parks during early-morning hours. It could also include off-leash use on golf courses during off seasons, and even converting struggling golf courses to off-leash dog parks.

SLC's off-leash parks

Cottonwood Park, 300 N. 1645 West

Freedom Trail at Memory Grove, 375 North Canyon Road

Herman Franks Park, 700 E. 1300 South

Jordan Park, 900 W. 1000 South

Lindsey Gardens, Ninth Avenue and M Street

Parley's Historic Nature Park, 2750 S. Heritage Way (2700 East)

Pioneer Park, 300 W. 350 South

Source: Salt Lake City